‘Thorium and Solar is the Ideal Mix for India’

Watch Mr. Kakodkar, former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission in India (2000-2009) talk about the developments in the Indian thorium energy program, the benefits of thorium fuel, and the energy situation in India in an interview at ThEC15 in Mumbai.

Mr. Kakodkar joined the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in 1964, and has been involved with thorium ever since. He played a key role in the design and construction of the Dhruva reactor led the indigenous development of India's Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor Technology. After his retirement in 2009, Mr. Kakodkar has continued with his thorium interest and is still engaged at BARC.

Anil Kakodkar’s interview at ThEC15 in Mumbai

‘In nature, the only fissile material that exists is uranium 235. So all nuclear programs have to begin with uranium. Let’s say you have a given amount of separated fissile material, and you are asked whether you should use it with uranium or thorium. Back in the days when nuclear energy began, the answer would be uranium because you couldn’t take fuel to a very high burn-up. Today the technology permits taking fuel to a very high burn-up, so the answer is thorium.’ reasons Mr. Kakodkar about the decisions made in nuclear energy in the past and what has changed in favor of thorium today.

Of course India puts a specific emphasis on thorium because the country has plenty of it, and not so much uranium. ‘But even worldwide, many of the problems the world faces in the context of nuclear, e.g. proliferation, could be solved with thorium. And the Indian experience shows that issues with thorium technology development can be solved’ Mr. Kakodkar describes the favorable characteristics of thorium fuel.

Mr. Kakodkar is also working with solar energy and has served as the Chairman of the Solar Energy Corporation of India. He sees a lot of complementarity between solar and thorium energy, as solar is decentralised while thorium energy can be centralised. According to Mr. Kakodkar, it is the ideal energy mix for India, a country blessed with vast thorium resources and sunshine. ‘No country should put all eggs in one basket’ he explains the importance for a country to have a mix of complementary energy sources.

How to educate the public about the benefits of thorium energy? ‘How many people understand how an airplane works? And still they fly. Same applies to nuclear energy. The field has to to build a certain degree of credibility for the public to understand that there are far more benefits than risks, and eventually the public will accept it.’ reasons Mr. Kakodkar.

Last updated 20 January, 2016